Thursday 19 September 2019

Movie Review: Moving Violation (1976)

A basic car chase action film, Moving Violation lives down to elemental expectations.

Laidback Detroit autoworker Eddie (Stephen McHattie) is hitchhiking through the south and wanders into the small town of Rockfield, where he quickly tangles with redneck Sheriff Rankin (Lonny Chapman). Eddie meets local ice cream parlour girl Cam (Kay Lenz), and together they witness the corrupt Rankin shooting dead his deputy on the estate grounds of oil tycoon Mr. Rockfield (Will Geer), whose family built the town.

Eddie and Cam realize they are in deep trouble and speed off in their van, with Rankin labelling them police-murdering terrorist fugitives. Wild chases ensue with multiple police cars joining the pursuit. The befuddled Eddie and Cam eventually seek the help of lawyer Alex Warren (Eddie Albert), but clearing their names will not be easy.

Produced by low-budget master Roger Corman and his wife Julie but backed by some studio money from 20th Century Fox, Moving Violation is 90 minutes of car chases and stunts interrupted by a few awkward scenes of attempted acting. The film looks reasonably slick and meets all expectations of B-movie drive-in level "beware the hick South" themed entertainment from the era, including horrid acting, childish dialogue and cartoonish villainous characters.

The chase scenes are often comically sped up except when director Charles S. Dubin introduces slow motion shots to better highlight the key stunts, and most of the fast motoring unfolds to hillbilly banjo music and plenty of repetitive tame cussing. The drive for humour occasionally collides with Sheriff Rankin's uncompromisingly evil stance and moments of abrupt shotgun violence.

Stephen McHattie and Kay Lenz often look embarrassed, confined to grim-faced close-up reaction shots while holding onto steering wheels with no actual lines to say. Moving Violation barrels down the highway seeking every possible crash opportunity, a mind numbing but efficient demonstration of scrap metal production.

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